Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Renting & Privacy Rules, by Megan Sukovich & Madison Norris

Renting presents issues of privacy for the involved parties. Tenants want privacy to be respected while landlords and inspectors want to perform effective jobs.

There is a myth that landlords have to give a 24-hour notice before entering a rental property. According to The Wisconsin Way tenant’s rights fact sheet, a landlord has the right to inspect, repair, and show the premises at reasonable times with a 12-hour advance notice. The landlord may enter with less notice in the case of an emergency or if the tenant agrees to a shorter notice.

“It can sometimes feel weird when a landlord comes over. You’re nervous they will come in and hate the mess, find something they didn’t like, or worse, find something to charge you for,” admits La Crosse student renter, Brandon Forcier.

Landlord-tenant law provides that a tenant has the right to exclusive possession of the unit during the tenancy, unless the landlord and tenant have agreed to a Non-Standard Rental Provision that specifically authorizes the entry. The landlord has no general right to enter the unit without the tenant's permission.
State law does authorize the landlord to enter the premises without advance approval under certain circumstances regarding safety and emergency situations.

Tenants are uncomfortable with inspectors entering their home as well. According to the La Crosse Chief Inspector, Dave Reinhart, tenants sometimes fear the property will be condemned or they evicted if an inspector finds a major issue. Tenant eviction is always a process that involves a court order.

A landlord who receives written notice from a law enforcement agency that the dwelling unit has been declared a nuisance under Wisconsin statutes may evict the tenant. Depending on the purpose of the eviction, failure of pay rent or other contract violation, the tenant will receive either a five or fourteen day notice.

“Some tenants will call with complaints, but when we try to make an appointment to inspect their rental, the tenants change their mind about us coming over,” says Reinhart.